BRADENTON, FL — A Bradenton father wants to share his love of surfing with local youth through his new initiative Kids with Boards. The goal is to deliver a board a month to a family in need, according to the organization’s Facebook page.
Kevin Greer started this endeavor by refurbishing surfboards for his own children, who were stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic this fall.
“We were all quarantined,” he said. “They were just playing video games bored on the couch, not able to do anything.”
In October, he happened to have some “old” and “busted up” surfboards at home and began rebuilding them, he said.
Once some of his own children started surfing, other families began to reach out to them. Their kids also wanted to surf, but they didn’t have the money to buy their own equipment.
“Used surfboards are $375, $400,” Greer said. “It blows my mind. Unless you come from a surfing background or a surfing family, you’ll never get to experience that, because that’s a lot of money.”
At the same time, he’s hoping to teach kids “conservation efforts through the practice of surfing and loving the ocean and our white sandy beaches here on the west central coast of Florida,” he said. “If you build the love of the gulf immediately and show them all there is to offer in the gulf, you’re looking at a future conservationist.”
As he donates surfboards to families, he also offers pointers to those surfing for the first time. Greer grew up in California and spent a lot of time surfing Pacific Ocean waves.
“I fell in love with the ocean there,” he said.
He moved to Florida about six years ago, launching an aquarium building business. Along the way, he met his fiancée, Darcy Jasper, a medical coder at Manatee Hospital.
He has several children, including 1-year-old Kylo with Jasper; two soon-to-be teen stepsons, Aiden and Jacob; and his daughter, Chloe.
Through his kids, Greer fell in love with the water all over again.
“They’re avid long boarders. We go out on stand-up paddleboards,” he said. “My kids are surfers, spear fishers, divers. The gulf is our backyard.”
Kevin Greer, founder of Kids with Boards, enjoys a moment with his 1-year-old son Kylo. (Photo by Red Clover Photography)
Now, he wants to share that love of surfing with children outside his family, particularly those who might not be able to afford a surfboard on their own.
In his backyard is what he’s established an area he’s dubbed “The Surf Shack,” a space where he stores all the tools, paint, fiberglass and resin he needs to refurbish the boards he’s working on, as well as any tips, fins, and other parts he might use to fix them up.
It’s a space he’s always used to store his surfing, kayaking and diving equipment.
“But now, we’ve focused our efforts to use that space for rebuilding these boards,” Greer said. “We’ve turned it into our own little workshop for Kids with Boards. It’s something our whole family is focusing on.
And it’s about so much more than surfing, he stressed.
“We can’t speak enough about what we are trying to do. We are trying to make kids fall in love with our gulf through surfing,” he said. “This is our tool. Surfing is our tool. We’re teaching the love of the gulf and conservation efforts using these boards.”
He’s already seen the good it’s done for his own children.
“They’re not playing video games as much. ‘Call of Duty’ has been put on the backburner for right now and that’s awesome,” Greer said. “Now, they’re out there watching turtles, seeing manatees coming by, the fish around us.”
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It’s also the perfect pandemic activity because of “the solitude of the waters,” he added. “You can be right next to each other without being close. You’re always five, six feet away. It’s the perfectly logical outdoor adventure to do during these hard COVID times.”
As he turns Kids with Boards into a nonprofit organization, he’s looking for cash donations to purchase the supplies he needs, as well as donations of old surfboards, even if they’re damaged.
Greer also wants to connect with families who want to get their kids out on the water.
“Our list has grown pretty quickly, but we’re motivated,” he said. “We want to get a board to every kid that wants one. It’s been a cruddy year for kids and we want to give them something to look forward to.”